Gronkjaer's send-off for Ranieri

Chelsea 1 Leeds United 0

They paraded the silverware at half-time. Unfortunately it was Chelsea Ladies with the booty - a couple of trophies landed in their own resurgent season. Nothing less than a jug or two would have saved Claudio Ranieri's pancetta, however realistic that ever was; probably not very.

A win was necessary - as a farewell and a flourish - and it came from the unlikely, maligned, pre-Abramovich Jesper Gronkjaer, who is also thought to be on his way. It was the second year running that he had scored winning goals on the final day, although, unlike last time, Champions' League qualification did not depend upon it. That had already been secured in Chelsea's best finish since 1955. Leeds, like Chelsea, are potless but in more than one sense. Here they were, at times, shamefully clueless as well. Defiance was an after-thought.

Although nothing depended on the result, there was the deliciously cruel irony of today's nouveau riche (thanks to the wealth of one man) in contest with yesterday's (achieved disastrously on the never-never). There is no guarantee that either is ever going to be any more than temporary and there should be a salutary shudder for Chelsea's fans when they contemplate Leeds' plight.

The scale of that predicament was spelled out clearly by Leeds' stand-in manager, Kevin Blackwell. Afterwards he predicted that just eight of the club's present playing squad would remain. "Most of the lads will never go home on a Leeds United bus again," he said. Minibus next season, then. Many, it appeared, had reluctantly come in the first place to take part in this match.

None more so than Alan Smith, who brought a sorry end to his Leeds career with a disinterested performance which was heckled by travelling fans irked by his link to Manchester United. Not once did he make a challenge. Smith's response, his only act of the game, was a single finger gesture. "Manchester United and Leeds are not the best of friends," said Blackwell. "But I don't think he deserved any criticism." He did for this game.

It was his final one and it was also Ranieri's, his 199th in charge, and he tinkered one last time with Glen Johnson an interesting and successful participant as, effectively, a right-winger in a fluid formation that went from 4-5-1 to 4-3-3 and back again. Leeds, in contrast, simply battened down the hatches and hoped for the best. That included four changes with Jason Wilcox making his first appearance since August but doing little while the goalkeeper, Scott Carson - thrown in for the fire-sale asset Paul Robinson - had an outstanding, confidence-building match. Blackwell rarely looked like sharing the spoils despite a late free-kick from substitute Jermaine Pennant which thudded back off a post with Carlo Cudicini left bewildered.

Chelsea should have put the game out of sight before then and although they - astonishingly - achieved a 30th clean sheet in victory, they again failed to provide the killer football that Roman Abramovich has demanded. Where was the volley from the edge of the area to put the icing on a 5-0 trouncing? It was either flying into the stand or residing in cloud cuckoo land.

Leeds were on the back-foot throughout. Shots rained in and mainly over. First Joe Cole's right-footed drive looped off Lucas Radebe and was brilliantly tipped over, and then William Gallas wasted a free header. Eidur Gudjohnsen - as is his maddening habit - wastefully scooped crazily from Johnson's floated pass, headed over from Gronkjaer's precise cross and thumped a shot narrowly wide. Cole tried his luck from 25 yards but again it was tipped over.

It was only a matter of time and when Johnson broke down the right Gronkjaer burst to the far post and dived low to head in for his third goal in three games. Confidence is an elusive, wonderful thing and the Dane combined forcefully with Wayne Bridge thereafter.

Half-time did not puncture the pressure. Cole, with exquisite footwork, provided for Frank Lampard whose header just cleared the crossbar. It was a show-pony trick by Cole but, for once, with a thoroughbred's delivery. Unlike his own attempted finish moments later when he collected Johnson's short pass only to curl the ball over. Carson spilled Lampard's shot and held on to Gudjohnsen's drive before Cole skied a last opportunity provided by the energy of Gronkjaer.

No more goals would come. Ranieri was denied that emphatic win. The Italian himself provided some flair - withdrawing John Terry, allowing him a standing ovation and handing the captain's armband to Lampard before he was also taken off for the crowd's appreciation. A touch of class from a class act. It would be nice if, as he hopes, it is au revoir rather than goodbye.

Chelsea 1 Leeds United 0
Gronkjaer 20

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 41,276

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
News
i100
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015